Ferdinand sues over 'Mirror' affair story

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The Independent Online

The England footballer Rio Ferdinand appeared at the High Court yesterday as he began legal action against Mirror Group Newspapers for publishing a story about an alleged affair.

The married father-of-three's case against the publishers of the Sunday Mirror, which is expected to last three days, relates to an article about a relationship that apparently lasted 13 years. It appeared in the newspaper on 25 April last year but was removed from its website five days later.

In the latest legal skirmish between celebrities claiming a right to privacy over newspapers standing behind the principle of a free press, Mr Ferdinand's barrister told the judge that the action was being taken over the misuse of private information.

The Mirror Group argues that it was in the public interest to reveal the relationship, given his prominent standing in the national game, as well as saying that Mr Ferdinand's attitude to the article is not consistent with his approach to previous articles about his sex life.

The case follows the scandal that surrounded Mr Ferdinand's England defensive partner – and rival for the team captaincy – John Terry, who last year saw a superinjunction banning publication of details about his affair with a former teammate's girlfriend lifted. That saw Mr Terry initially lose the captaincyto Mr Ferdinand, though he was subsequently re-instated.

Sitting in front of Hugh Tomlinson QC, the Manchester United defender listened as his barrister told Mr Justice Nichol: "It arises out of what we say is the wrongful publication of an article in the Sunday Mirror on April 25, 2010, concerning a relationship between the claimant and a woman called Carly Storey, which had not previously been the subject of any media publications."

The press and public were excluded from the proceedings soon after these remarks, as a debate took place in private over how much could be heard in open court. In the event, it was decided that much of the evidence should be aired in public, albeit with merely a censored version of the article in question being referred to. However, the judge has not yet made a decision whether to admit further documents, including other newspaper articles and pieces of correspondence, for consideration. Mr Ferdinand is likely to offer his testimony tomorrow.